oops

Oh my. It's Friday again and I haven't blogged in over a week! oops. Here's as brief an update as possible...

Last Friday I went out with the usual suspects, and a few new faces. As always I can only speak for myself but I had the best evening, still not found a real cave replacement (food by Native State which was fine but a tad overpriced and the place itself was far too noisy)... anyway from there we went to Greyfriars and met up with a bunch more people including one old friend of mine who I haven't seen in ages and won't see again for at least a year I expect. We were thirteen strong by the time Liz and I went to queue for Improverts tickets, and consequently took about half their remaining seats at a stroke! *evil laugh*

The show was OK, not as good as last week but still mightily funny. Afterward our numbers shrank to a mere crowd of eight or nine (I'm not sure exactly) and we made our way over to the Traverse for more drinks and chatting until closing time at about 1am.

Saturday morning (well "morning" relatively speaking) Hamish, Anita and I headed over the hills to my house, ostensibly to prepare for the feast we all had planned for Sunday, but actually all we did was mooch about recovering from the night before... well OK that's all I did, the others might have been more productive while I was dozing.

On Sunday I foolishly left Hamish in charge of peeling potatoes, and went away to fetch Liz, Fi (friend of Liz's who I like but who always forgets me,) Justin (the aforementioned 'old friend' from Friday,) and Karen (his other Edinburgh based old friend and hopefully my new friend) from the city out to the sticks. On our return we dug Hamish out from underneath the mountain of peeled potatoes and together we made a rough approximation of a Burns Supper. The cooking and eating was all good, and very much a group effort... mostly co-ordinated by Liz and myself and therefore heavily dependent on the use of large quantities of butter. I think we managed to eat about half of the vat of mashed potato between us (which was the best I have ever eaten thanks to Liz's secret tricks.) Few of the Burns Night traditions were honoured and not one of us was actually Scottish, but a good time was (I gather) had by all, especially me since I love having people over and this was the first time I'd really managed to have a crowd over all at once.

Everyone stayed over and I ferried people back into town with me in the morning, except for Justin and Karen who stayed behind to wash up most of the mess we'd all made (earning my eternal gratitude!) before getting a train back to civilisation at a more civilised hour.

On Monday Night Hamish and I met up to 'plan' our travelling for the year - we each want to do a lot of it this year and have fun going places together so we look set to do a lot of that, with some of the rest of the gang coming along too some of the time... on Tuesday after a tricky drive home from work over ice-rink roads I slept and awoke on Wednesday to find that the snow had contuinued falling and there were extreme weather warnings about driving on the hills so I called in to work and went back to bed for a couple of hours expecting to head in later on. Waking again mid-morning I found the situation hadn't changed, called in again and then (after brunch) decided to spend my unexpected free-day playing Lego which I haven't done in about a decade. Anita played too for a while, building a very fine house before deciding to be a bit more grown-up. I spent all day building most of a very large and complex spaceship (it's about a meter long, and looks really smart but I didn't quite finish the middle part) and was amazed when we came to clear up at night how much of the stuff there still was to scoop back into the bags. I was a really lucky kid.

Yesterday it was back to work, and I was narked to find that in my absence those kids who'd made it in had mucked about with my desk and nicked most of the useful stuff (like pens and glue and such) - little f*ckers. Actually after my second cup of coffee I realised that I was more narked at still not having found a new job, and that the evil worm-baby pranks were just a reminder that I needed to do more about that, so I spent some of my afternoon and evening (I finish early on Thursdays at the moment) compiling a list of Edinburgh based marketing companies to research with a view to making some well thought out on-spec applications by the first weekend in February. Having a plan makes me happier. I also scoured the internet for any good job adverts but found none, so fingers crossed for something in the papers this weekend.

and that brings us up to date I think. This weekend is looking set to be a similarly exciting and friend-filled one... but that's another entry.
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thinking

hmm, according to a recent article in Nature*, there's strong evidence to suggest that plants think. OK perhaps not 'think' but 'compute' which is a close cousin - I wonder how much computing power there is in my little vertical garden at home...

In other news I am happy, probably because it's Friday and I get to do fun stuff all weekend with cool people. Later tonight the usual Friday crowd and I plus several new additions will be going for dinner and then to watch the Improverts (which was fantastic last week.) on Saturday if I have the energy I'm going to Glasgow to try out a bar I've been wanting to go to for ages, and if I don't have the energy (it all depends how much post-Improverting there is to be done tonight) I'll do that next weekend when I'll be in Glasgow anyway, and will instead spend Saturday happily preparing for Sunday when friends are coming to my house for a Burns Supper thing. Very excited about that - my house is quite intentionally geared up for entertaining people in, but it's rather inconveniently situated so I don't get to entertain as often as I'd like... [laughs at self] I'm such a stereotype sometimes...

*confession: I don't read Nature, I stumbled over the article as metanews on Slashdot.
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blowing off dust

(incidentally I realise that nobody is likely to be interested in the following but me, but this is my site and I can be self-indulgent with it if I want to so there *wink*)

Last week I found an abandonware site that had Mac versions of several old favourite games from my early and mid-teens, versions which run very happily in 'classic' mode on my existing computer, with a few notable exceptions that use the processor speed for timings (playing Theme Park proves to be impossible because you miss a year each time you blink!) anyway I enjoyed revisiting a few of the workable games over the weekend and discovered that (apart from the sound quality) they're mostly as good as I remembered them from over a decade ago.

Back then I used an Amiga, a computer platform well ahead of its time, (not least in terms of sound processing it seems!) which for whatever reason didn't really 'make it'. Quite when the platform died is hard to say, partly because it was owned by a confusing succession of parent companies over its later years, and partly as some people are still resolutely using them as their main computers today, however in an objective look at the history of modern computing, the Amiga would probably figure as a small footnote, and was really only a 'contender' between 1985 and 1992. I finally gave up on it about the time I started working here and encountered Mac OS X for the first time, mid-way through 2001, which is a good six years after the last new product in the line was released - all Amiga users die hard you see, and you'd probably find that a little Amiga user lives on even now inside anyone who ever owned one.

...but I digress, coincidentally to finding software from the old days, I've been clearing out some of the last of my old hardware recently as well - I mothballed pretty much all of my Amiga gear when my PowerBook was delivered in September 2001, and after a couple of weeks using the new computer I decided to get rid of the old. I placed an advert on a specialist site at the time and shifted a couple of things before interest ran dry and I gave up. Sentimental fool that I am though I couldn't bring myself to simply bin the remaining hardware so it's been sitting about the house in boxes for the last couple of years.

As I've mentioned with the start of the new year I've found a new drive for sorting things out and after a recent evening clearing out cupboards I was left with a substantial number of Amiga components that no longer had a home: a couple of accelerator cards, a monitor that uses connectors and refresh-rates unique to the Amiga, various expansions, add-ons, peripherals and one entire system with a broken floppy-drive that's otherwise (amazingly) still serviceable. Once again sentimentality got the better of me - this old junk was a big part of my late-childhood, and even after all these years it seemed wrong to simply consign them to the scrap-heap. So as a sort of last gesture of appreciation for all the years of enjoyment they gave me I placed a for-sale ad online again on the same specialist site...

...and to my amazement responses started flooding in! to date I've made over £150 from the sale of this stuff, with the remaining odds and ends all under at least one offer I look set to rake in a total comfortably beyond £200, and best of all my beloved old junk is being shipped off to new homes where people are actually going to use it. Incredible.

It's sad but true that while parcelling up and shipping off all this gear, I've caught myself feeling a little conflicted sometimes - writing overly elaborate installation instructions, or checking for their safe arrival with just a bit more interest than can be justified simply as that of a conscientious e-seller... I think the truth is that even though it's been sitting gathering dust for years I'm going to miss my 'mig. Still it's nice to know that none of it's bound for the landfill, at least not just yet.
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bad splat

I am a bad brother, I didn't post my lil' sis her birthday stuff in time and now the big day has arrived with her present and card still at the wrong end of the country. Sorry Al!

My family are generally very forgiving about my inability to get things like this done and out of the way on time, they're an understanding bunch - and after all it's not that I forget the birthdays, I'm very good at remembering... I'm just not so good at actually doing anything about them. The fact that I live far away from my family is no excuse at all, seeing as they also necessarily live far away from me and yet all of them always manage to get things here in time for my birthdays...

So it seems I'm not a totally reformed splat, I had been beginning to think that 2004 was some kind of a miracle year because (are you all sitting down for this one?) I haven't overslept once all year so far! I know that to anyone who doesn't know me that won't sound terribly impressive: the year is only sixteen days old after all and of those I've only had to get up for work on nine mornings. To anyone who does know me however, this news could very well cause dizziness, disorientation and even possibly temporary loss of the power of speech. You see I like sleeping... a lot... a hell of a lot actually, and what's worse is that I'm most accutely conscious of liking to sleep, just about the time that I first wake up, which in the past has led to a lot of mornings where I don't get out of bed until at least fifteen minutes after I really should have done... toward the end of last year there were probably more mornings I overslept than mornings I got up anywhere near on time!

Not so this year (so far!) This week has been my week to make the morning coffees at home ('nite and I are both bad getter-uppers and have a rota for helping each other out) and I've not once had to say 'sorry, it's a bit later than usual' (meaning 'it's as late as usual but that is later than it should be') or worse yet completely failed in my duties. instead I've been getting up when my alarm goes off and being awake in my house for at least a full hour before leaving every day! I even managed to have breakfast on three mornings this week, and only didn't on the other two because I wasn't hungry. I'm discovering a whole new part of the day, and I rather like it - there's something to be said about having the time to get up properly before you leave the house, and it's also nice not worrying about being late into work, especially when you're hoping to need references some time soon!

... maybe this renewal and change is a gradual thing? maybe once I've fully mastered this getting up business (after all it is still early days) I'll find I also remember to post birthday presents three to five working days in advance of the actual loved-one's birthday... here's hoping.
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Happy for no reason...

... and it's Monday this is really most irregular given that I am never happy on Mondays except when there's a really good reason to counteract the whole "it's Monday" thing. Must have had a good weekend I suppose.

Actually I did have a good weekend, albeit a very lazy one, Friday became one of those Fridays when we all stay out until the end of the night getting very drunk (apart from Anita who wussed out early and went home) We started off with dinner at the Tass which is good but no cave replacement (still hunting for that) and then since Liz had to "work" we went across the road to the Waverley where there were an unreasonable number of real customers (the Waverley is lovely, but very small and out of the way, which makes it usually very quiet, enhancing the lovliness...) which meant Liz and her partner in "working" Fi actually had to work. a little bit. Also slightly distracting from the usual happy-to-be-here-nness of the Waverley was a blocked drain thing which was gradually causing the gents to submerge in water and um, matter - ik.

Closing time came before we all drowned horribly, but after Anita had gone home. Hame, Liz, Austin, Fi and I all bimbled about the city together merrily for a while trying to think of somewhere to go, and then because we couldn't think of anywhere we went to CC Blooms which I hate with a passion, but where (with the right crowd) a good time can be had - this was indeed the right crowd, and with the unexpected addition of Phil and Murray the time that was had was indeed good, if a little over-indulgent on the alcohol front (for my part at least.)

Saturday was mostly spent recovering from Friday: I vegged out on the sfoa at home and watched more TV than is normal, while Anita was productive and tidied up her den - this reversal of roles is only slightly less unnatural than the fact that said den is now quite tidy! (there are actually flat surfaces in there now, and not just the vertcal ones!)

on Sunday I was marginally less cabbage-esque and got a few little odds and ends done before immersing myself in a multiplayer Diablo session with 'nite... all in all it's the kind of weekend that, while fun, usually leaves me feeling annoyed at myself... but I'm not, I'm really quite happy. Go figure.

I suppose me being happy could in part be due to having found two interesting and attainable looking jobs to apply for, so I'm off to do just that, oh and then I might work a little ;)
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is it that time already?

hm, where did all that time go? *shrugs* well anyway so far so good with this 2004 malarky, I've caught up with most of the important people, navigated a return to work (blegh) and found the first possible-new-job (hereafter "pnj") of the year to apply for, so yay me, I've also been quite astoundingly productive at home and am within a few more afternoons of having an organised and tidy abode, so far my bedroom, and two of the three walk-in cupboards have been 'sorted' the spare room is still in use as a staging area for all the sorting (but you can now see the carpet again so it's getting there) and upstairs is in a fairly tidy variant of its perpetual flux (apart from some drawers where I know there are lurking paper monsters...) nite's cave, er, I mean "room" doesn't count so that only leaves one cupboard (the huge one I plan on turning into a shower room later this year) for me to sort out! aren't I good eh?

tonight is the first official Friday of 2004 (I know it's the second Friday but it's the first one that the whole crowd have been back in Edinburgh for) and we're off out after work, which makes me happy. Also in the happy-making department is the fact that many friends are in various different stages of planning visits, including James & Caz who I haven't seen in far too long.

right, some retrospective entries to post and then I should probably get back to doing what I get paid for eh?
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fuel warning

"this patrick is currently running on emergency backup power and will go to sleep in a few seconds to preseve the contents of memory..."

(posted retrospectively)
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Zzzzzzzzzzzz

I'm experiencing severe job-lag today: last night after my first day back at work my sleep patterns went into shock and I was awake until well after 3:30am - during the holiday this wouldn't have been a problem but since it only left me three hours before getting up time it really was a problem.

'nite seemed to experience the same thing yesterday - she went back to work a day ahead of me and after reportedly having almost no sleep Monday night, she was a gibbering sleep-deprived wreck by Tuesday evening, only on Tuesday all we had to do was sit about at home where as today is Liz's birthday and there are chocolate brownies which need me to go and eat them... hopefully I'll wake up enough to engage in conversation for some of the evening, 'cus I've been looking forward to this all week.

I'm sorely tempted to go and lie down behind the stacks or try to sleep under my desk but I'd better not...

(posted retrospectively)
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start as you mean to go on

Today was great, in fact this year to date has been, I swapped one visiting friend (Keith) for another (Hamish) and the last few evenings have just been a long succession of chilled out chats, good food and smug-warm-and-dry-ness in my lovely little house. bliss.

Today Hame, 'nite and I decided that too much of a good thing (i.e. my living room) might not be wise so we bundled ourselves up into reasonably weather resistant gear and went down the road to New Lanark: an incredibly pretty little planned mill village from the Industrial Revolution. It sits at the base of the Falls of Clyde, where the surging waters have been being harnessed for centuries. It's also the closest place to go for a gentle walk in pretty countryside so that's just what we did.

Hame's still recovering from the Canadian Lurgi he brought back with him after xmas and I think 'nite was feeling the effects of too many nights in so niether was up to treking very far even on a gentle footpath walk but it was really great being outside anyway and while I could happily have walked all day, it's probably best that I didn't since I've been doing plenty of sitting about on my arse myself, and will probably feel even the few small hills we covered in my legs tomorrow.

There seems to be a definite sense among all of us that we'll do more of this kind of thing this year: less time online and more in 'meatspace' - I can't wait!

(posted retrospectively)
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new year stuff

I have a few things in my head I've been meaning to put down here, lets give it a shake and see what falls out...

firstly I wanted to share the pleasing coincidence from yesterday: I've been gearing up to some over-due clearing out and tidying up about the place, spurred on by a November/December when I spent far too much time rootling in boxes and cupboards muttering "but I know I have X somewhere" where X is any one of a number of things, most of which I never found. Anyway I haven't really started doing it but I have started planning it which has made me more aware of all the places there are in my house for things to hide, the relevance of which will become clear toward the end of the next paragraph.

I don't do 'resolutions' since the whole idea seems to be astructure for us all feeling bad about ourselves, with New Year's resolutions what happens is that we all pick something that bugged us anbout last year, make it into an unreasonable goal for ourselves and then struggle hard to fail at it before about Burns' Night so that we can all reassure ourselves how useless and inadequate we are. Like I said i don't do it, what I did start doing a few years back though was writing a short list of five attainable goals for the year. 'nite and I both did this for 2002 and it worked really well - in both our cases the lists got mentally checked off and we each felt good about achieving what we achieved... the only trouble was that come 2003 the little book we'd put the lists in was stil AWOL in the post-move chaos... this is where my rediscovered awareness of the hiding places for things in my house comes in because yesterday, the 31st, I was in my room doing something completely unrelated when I stumbled over the self-same little book! great timing eh?

'nite and I each double-checked our old lists and each found that (for the most part) we'd done everything, of my five only one is still undone and that's because in the intervening time I decided it's a much longer term goal... anyway to see out 2003 we each wrote new lists and put the book 'somewhere safe' which hopefully on this occasion doesn't mean 'an obscure corner I'll forget in 12 months time'!

hm, that went on longer than expected - the only other thing really is that I'm in a really optimistic and happy head-space about this year generally... it seems like all the little niggling failures and mistakes from last year which I'd got inexplicably fixated with in December are done with and I'm ready to go out and make a whole new year's worth of new ones ;)

(posted retrospectively)
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shiny

there's a much longer post to be written (and not from this side of a bottle of single malt) that I'll probably back-date to the end of the old year but before I turn in for the first night's sleep of '04 there are a few things I need to get out of my head, mostly centered on the sense that this is going to be a good year.

I've spent a wonderfully chilled New Year with some good friends, good food and drink in a warm and happy place I'm pleased to call my own - the weather outside emphasises that last part pretty fiercely (commiserations to anyone who had an outdoor Hogmanay planned this year!) - it's all contrasted well with an equally enjoyable but very faintly sad xmas spent fighting off an urge to mull over all the missing parts of my life...

Rather than feeling down about all that didn't happen last year I'm excited about the twelve shiny new months of possibilities that just opened up in front of me.

It is going to be a good year.
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